4 3 2 1

4 3 2 1

Book - 2017
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On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives.
Publisher: [Toronto] : McClelland & Stewart, 2017
ISBN: 9780771009174
Characteristics: 866 p. ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Four, three, two, one


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Sep 08, 2020

Ambition sometimes works in novels - one of my favorites is Les Miserables - but here it just creates chaos.

Jan 10, 2019

Do you ever imagine what other lives you might have led if you or your parents had made different choices? 4 3 2 1 tells the story of Archie Ferguson in 4 different ways. Always Archie is a Jewish-American boy raised in the New York/New Jersey area. In each iteration his life begins the same, but they quickly diverge.

I found this novel enthralling. It was a little hard to follow the different Archies at times and keep their different storylines straight. It took me a long time to get through this behemoth. I got side-tracked by my youth lit project. I wouldn't recommend reading it in the fits and starts that I devoted to it, but it was worth it. I especially liked how many of the characters made appearances in the different lives. One of my favorites of 2017.

Nov 06, 2018

Brilliant, absolutely loved it. Fell into it right away and didn't want to stop reading. Someone commented about taking notes, which could be helpful. I'd advise putting a post-it at the beginning of each section since you'll likely want/need to refer back when beginning a different version of Archie.

Sep 29, 2018

Great start. Hard to put down early on. Loved finding out the premise.
Started dragging in the middle, but not sure if the characters could have been developed as well if the heft wasn’t there.
I had to put it down for a couple of weeks near page 600 for a break. Just too long.
Random: It was a little maddening to get into the protagonist‘s head as he thought about the purpose of some girls in some scenes. “boys will be boys?”

Jan 12, 2018

A wondrous book!So glad i never gave up. A bit of advice if you get overwhelmed with the length--take a break of a few days and then go back to it.

Vero_biblio Jan 09, 2018

If you read the comments below, you will quickly figure out that people either love or hate this book. As for me, I loved it, as I spent got because of it many hours in the company of a good boy, Archie, whom I got really attached to. When the book ended, I was so sad to leave him behind -- indeed it took me a few days before I could start with another book and this *never* happens to me usually.

If you decide to go ahead and plunge into Archie's life/lives, here's a tip : keep notes. The four Archies start at the same point, but over the years they go through different experiences (rich/struggling parents, married/divorced, public/private school) etc and it can get confusing after a while. You'll thank me later :)

Last thing I wanted to mention : if you can, read it in the audio version. First of all, because 800+ is very long to read so do yourself a favour and let someone do the hard work for you. Second, because the narrator is the author himself, Paul Auster, who has a beautiful deep voice that I couldn't get tired of, even after the some 38 hours of recording it took to tell the whole book.

Do it! It's quite a trip.

ArapahoeAndrew Dec 11, 2017

A behemoth of a novel that is full of flowing prose and stories you'd hear at a relative's house.

The premise is interesting when you start (4 stories about how one person's life could have turned out, oh boy!) but by the end you are happy it is over and no longer find any joy in having to read 4 novels in 1.

That being said, for a work of literary fiction, it holds its own and offers poignant insights that are mixed into the banality of the everyday life of its young narrator in the mid-twentieth century. Not as soul-wrecking as something like Yanagihara's A Little Life.

Oct 22, 2017

Seriously lacking.

Oct 11, 2017

Not sure why this 866 page doorstopper is on the Mann Booker shortlist. It has been called a “quadrophonic bildungsroman” of, in my opinion a self-absorbed white male writer. The problem is that it’s hard to care about any of the four Archie Fergusons. I understand the writer’s conceit is the that core of your character is set early in life and is relatively impervious to various circumstances life throws at you. I have some admiration for Auster’s ability to take a set of facts and weave four different stories. The background of the story, the politics, the music, the zeitgeist, is the tapestry of of any baby boomer’s life, and yet he can’t manage but a cursory nod to the condition of women and the powerful changes that took place for us in this period. This book reminds me of why, as a baby boomer feminist, I consciously read fiction written only by women for a period of more than ten years.

Sep 06, 2017

I gave up halfway through. Too much detail of baseball (who cares?) and of his time at summer camp etc. I soon realized I was skipping sections due to it being tedious. Not worth the effort.

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Jun 05, 2017

clairemars thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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